Attention Parents of Teenagers…

I remember one of the first times a boy drove me home from a night out together. As we pulled up my driveway and came to a halt, I may have taken more than 5 seconds to exit his vehicle when suddenly the front lights of my house started flashing on and off extremely fast. There was nothing wrong with the power that night. It was my mom. That was her signal for me to get the F inside my house and for said boy to get the F out of my driveway. Subtle mom…really subtle.

Fast forward to 2017. I am now a proud mom to 3 rapidly growing girls. Try as I might to hit the slow down button – they are aging at lightning speed. I know that strobe lights are in my future and I will worry just as my mom did when they are out past 8:15 pm. Even though I would like to think that as moms we hold the power… looking back on those younger years I realize there is only so much we can control. Curfew, dating advice and social media limits will be unchartered territory for me… but there is one thing I DO know about making the teenage years BETTER. It’s a dirty little secret that most parents don’t know about… and this time our girls aren’t trying to screw us…they don’t know about it either.

The little secret is hiding in your teenager’s bathroom.

Let me explain.

The average teenage girl puts 17 products on her body EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

You read that right. 17.

That means that on any given day your girl is exposed to about 200 chemicals through her personal care products like mascara, lip gloss and deodorant.

And why should we give a shit?

All of these chemicals are absorbed into her skin and bloodstream.

And?

And in case her emotional shifts aren’t enough of an indication – a girls body is going through enormous developmental changes during the teen years. From bone and brain function to hormonal system changes to metabolism… shit is getting real.

During this window of time, teeny tiny levels of hormones are what shape a girls development. So when little miss makeup kit comes in with her seemingly innocent dose of who knows what – it is easy for the body to interpret those chemicals as natural and change function accordingly. In the science world we call these shit disturbers “endocrine disruptors.” Suffice it to say they have just enough power to mess things up (think neurobehavioral problems, cancer cell growth and obesity).

Many teen girls are entering puberty earlier than they were a generation ago—in part due to childhood and in-utero exposures to endocrine disruptors. Early puberty puts girls at a higher risk for later-life breast cancer, and the shortened childhood has other implications including an increased risk of depression.

As a mom to three girls I give a lot of fucks about a lot of things… but I give an especially big one to making sure I do whatever I can to keep my kids safe and healthy. Given that teens also have a mind of their own, I am working to teach my kids why all this stuff matters. I’m hoping that when it comes time for them to buy their own products they will ask some of the same questions I am asking now.

Last summer there was a study conducted where 100 teenage girls were asked to discontinue use of products that contained certain hormone disrupting chemicals. The findings were crazy. After just three days there was a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bloodstream. This study proved what many of us already knew to be true – the products we choose do make a difference.

So what’s an oblivious mom to do?

First of all, encourage your daughter to limit the number of products used. Less is more. If the things I mentioned above aren’t enough to make her care, you can tell her that the use of cosmetics can also cause skin damage and acne. 

Secondly, there is a free app from the Environmental Working Group that anyone can download. It is called “Healthy Living.” We can use this app to look up the products that we already have and get safety information on them. We can also search and scan labels for BETTER alternatives. Encourage your daughter to download this herself. It will take her 30 seconds to figure it out (trust me, I have tested this with many teen girls). Instead of you lecturing her on what is good and bad you will be giving her the tools to figure that out herself. More and more teens are seeking out companies that don’t test on animals. Remind your kid that companies shouldn’t test on humans either.

But your kid really does need some skincare and she wants to wear makeup too… What now?

Learning to take care of our skin is a normal part of growing up. Unfortunately, having acne is a very normal part of growing up too.

Here is my quick and easy guide to keeping skin clean and healthy.

First of all we should all be sure to:

  • drink enough water
  • eat plenty of whole foods

and

  • wear sunscreen every day

Kids aren’t really thinking about aging and wrinkles but good habits start early and sun damage is cumulative – which means it adds over a lifetime and shows up later in the form of  wrinkles, skin issues and cancers. A safe, mineral based sunscreen like this one is key. (For more on sunscreen safety click here).

Once teenagers start to experience oily skin or breakouts it is time to start cleansing every day. It’s easy to start with evening cleansing. This may be something to do in the shower. Face cleansers are better than soap because they are more gentle and less irritating. Things to keep in mind with cleansing:

  • make sure hands are clean
  • wash well around the jawbone and hairline
  • pat gently after washing to leave some moisture on the skin

Athletes may need to cleanse more often and might want to toss a face wash in their gym bag.

You’ve heard it before and you will hear it again. Tempting as popping can be… pimples should be left alone. Popping them can lead to marks, scars and irritation.

If your teen notices his/her skin feels dry, a moisturizer can be helpful. Skin needs hydration and nutrition and a good, clean product should give it just that.

Aside from these products (sunscreen, cleanser & moisturizer) there really isn’t much else that is needed for young skin. A clay mask is fun and a gentle exfoliator can be nice to use a few days a week… but more is not better when it comes to teens and skin care.

Here are my favorite product picks for teen skin.

1. Sunscreen: Non-nano zinc oxide based formula that I love because it is light, has a nice scent and rubs in clear.

2.Charcoal Bar: This bar contains activated charcoal, coconut oil and green tea and can be used on the body or face. It is perfect for anyone who struggles with breakouts or who tends to have oily skin.

3. Nourishing Cream Cleanser:Super every day cleanser for normal skin. Very hydrating and non-drying.

4. Nourishing Exfoliator: Can be used 2-3 days a week instead of cleanser. It is very creamy and gentle. The jojoba beads are used in place of harsh abrasive and toxic microbeads. Great for teens with drier skin.

5. Charcoal Mask: This mask contains charcoal, kaolin clay and peppermint. The charcoal draws out impurities and it exfoliates leaving the skin softer and clearer.

6. Nourishing Night Cream: This night cream is lightweight and non-greasy. It will help the skin stay hydrated and nourished.

7. When it comes to makeup, teenagers have their own ideas. But sticking with a safe line of cosmetics that is free of harmful ingredients but also contaminants like heavy metals is key. I love the way this Beautycounter makeup looks on women of all ages.

If you still think this whole clean beauty movement is a little overblown check this out. Alarming but not uncommon…and always BETTER to err on the side of caution.

For questions, skin-specific recommendations, to schedule a get together with your teen or any other information feel free to reach out! thebetterhave@gmail.com

 

Today was a Good day…


If you know me well, you know I’m not one to get particularly political. Today was a little different. Our personal care industry is a disaster.  A $62 billion dollar industry governed by a page and a half of law that dates back to 1938.

If you start to evaluate things you’ll see that the reality is there is nothing political about the need for reform at all. This is a human health issue. It affects each of us regardless of age, gender or ethnicity and regardless of how much or how little we care. We can do BETTER.

Canada has restricted 600 ingredients from personal care products, the E.U. 1,400 and the U.S. has only taken action on approximately 30. We are America! We are supposed to be leaders. We are not even being followers.

Most days I try to make a difference by sharing what I know with the people I love and the people they love. It works. When people know better they do better. We are changing even if the government isn’t leading the charge. But today, a few of us took some time to educate the leaders in our community. We shared our stories, our reasons for caring. From children born with ADHD, Autism and other health problems…to family and friends and even some of us who have been personally touched by cancer and other health issues. The reasons are real and all of us know people who have been affected.

The person we met with today was hugely unaware. Having never met with or heard anything about the subject at hand, he was as ignorant about the issues as we were at one time. Today we changed that. We will continue to change that.

Before dropping my children at school this morning I made sure to tell them what I would be doing today. I told them I was doing it for them and their kids so that one day they won’t have to worry about the products that they buy from any store. My 6 year old immediately understood. “Yeah, so you don’t have to read all the ingredients and take up so much time at the store and have it be so confusing?” Yes. Yes. See? Even a 6 year old understands.

Who even came up with the business decision that it would be a good idea to put dangerous chemicals into the products we put on our skin every. single. day.

It’s common sense people.

Onward!

Nailing It…

Nobody loves a mani/pedi as much as this girl. Anything that involves a foot rub is a-okay with me. For years I unknowingly visited the salon and had umpteen chemicals slathered all over my nails and body… these days I am trying to do BETTER. I haven’t given up the salons altogether (’cause let’s keep it real, nasty nails aren’t exactly hip), but I do go less often and when I do I have adopted a regimen that makes me feel just a little more clean and green.

When I walk in and they ask me to pick my color, I give a wink and a nod and say “I brought my own.” Cue the eye rolls and conversation in a language I can’t understand. Unphased, I proceed to unload my little cosmetic bag of tricks.

I turn on my massage chair (I prefer kneading to knocking), and I am ready to roll.

In a perfect world, we would all have salons like this that take the health of their workers and customers seriously. As timing would have it, just this week a suit was filed against the FDA for their unconscionable (that’s a fancy word for bullshit) disregard and lack of follow-up to the formal request filed over 5 years ago asking them to investigate the makers of products that have been shown to harm salon workers and their customers since 2008.

Those of us who visit hair and nail salons are negatively impacted… but it’s the workers themselves who suffer the most. There are over 17,000 nail salons in this country, very few of which have any standards at all when it comes to safety. At the same time, salon workers continue to show side effects like headaches, rashes, breathing problems and higher rates of certain cancers, asthma and birth defects in their children.

Luckily many new health-minded nail care companies have entered the scene over the past few years, making it easier for us to have access to safe products. First they came out with 3-free polishes, then 5-free came along and now you can find 7, 8 and even 9-free polishes. 9 free? What the heck does that even mean? It means chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene and DBP (which are completely legal, yet completely toxic) have gotten the boot from their little glass bottle of color.  Does it matter? Do polishes even penetrate the nail? This study and others like it confirm that to be the case.

But do the healthier alternatives work? In short, yes.

Non-toxic products of the past used to carry a stigma of ineffective and un-cool (think crystal deodorant that you tried 15 years ago which didn’t do any of us any favors). Nowadays it isn’t just hip to be green, there are actually plenty of products that work – and often perform better than their toxic counterparts. Brands like this and this don’t exactly look ho-hum.

If you’re lucky enough to live in California, you can choose a healthy salon. For the rest of us, we better start packing… or, look for salons that have good ventilation and stock at least 3-free polishes. Or, better yet, take a cue from moi and BYOP (bring your own polish).

If you or someone you care about works in a salon, there are things they can do too. Many of them are simple like improving ventilation (can be as simple as opening a door). You can find helpful information here and here.

Below are a few of my go-to nail products and a few on my wish list to try.

NCLA

LVX

lvxLauren B. Beauty

lauren-b

AILA

aila

Jenna Hipp

jenna-hipp

Smith and Cult

smith-and-cultDeborah Lippman

Zoya

zoya

For a healthier polish remover, try either of these soy based removers. You have to let the cotton ball sit on your nail for a little while before you start rubbing but if you have patience, they do work.

AILA

Priti NYC 

Now go forth and get nailed!

xx